Rachel Shabi’s animosity towards Israel seems to have no boundaries, and is not governed by even the most rudimentary sense of journalistic fairness, or decency. I’m overstating the case, you say. Hardly.
Shabi’s latest smear job, “Israel’s government raises alarm at events in Egypt”, begins thusly:
As pro-democracy demonstrations continue in Egypt, Israel‘s reaction has been of rising panic…”The Israeli government is freaking out,” said Dr Shmuel Bachar, at the Israel Institute for Policy and Strategy. “For the past 30 years we have depended on Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.”
Of course the word “panic” to characterize Israel’s concerns over the fate of their 30 year peace treaty with Egypt is nothing but hyperbole, and is also completely at odds with the sober and measured way the Jewish state has responded to much worse threats over the years (which included several Arab invasions).
Israel has been troubled by sight of masses of Egyptian people on the streets calling for democratic rights, freedoms and the ousting of Hosni Mubarak…in a poll published by mass-circulation daily Yediot Ahronot, 65% of Israelis think Mubarak’s removal from office would be a bad thing for Israel.
This passage is something approaching rhetorical malpractice. First, it implies, bizarrely, that Israel – the only real liberal democracy in the Middle East – is somehow hostile to democratic rights and individual freedoms. Then, it misleadingly cites a poll demonstrating Israeli concern over the upheavals in Egypt – and the potential that the crisis could lead to a government even more hostile to Israel – as evidence of the nation’s contempt for Egyptian democratic aspirations.
But, it gets worse:
Of primary concern are fears that the Muslim Brotherhood, perceived as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, could take control and reverse relations with Israel. [emphasis mine]
This passage is where Shabi’s piece pivots from being awful to outright dishonest.
Framing the Muslim Brotherhood as a movement which is merely “perceived as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic” represents a classic trope of the anti-Israel hard left – employing rhetoric that intentionally obfuscates the well-documented and simply undeniable facts about Islamist groups’ clear rejection of Israel’s right to exist within any borders.
Indeed, the explicit goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is to restore the caliphate, creating a single state run according to Islamic precepts that would stretch from Spain to Indonesia. For the Muslim Brotherhood – whose leadership has praised Osama bin Laden – their group represents the center of the struggle against the United States, the West, Israel, and other infidel regimes.
As recently as Feb. 4th, a spokesman for the Egyptian MB, Mohamed Morsy, stated quite clearly that he opposes Zionism in any form.
More explicitly anti-Semitic elements of their ideology include the belief that Western civilization is doomed by Jewish influence, and that the Jews are particularly vile enemies of Islam.
Yet, somehow, Shabi saves her worse for last:
“Although many Israeli commentators are rehearsing these fears about Islamist politics, some have questioned these reactions.”
Of course, the word “rehearsing” is a thinly veiled way to mock Israeli concerns. A fear which is merely “rehearsed” implies that such rhetoric is uttered by rote, to serve a political purpose, rather than a genuine concern.
But, do tell us, Ms. Shabi, what are “some” saying is the real concern?
“There are no religious slogans in Tahrir square, but still we look upon the Muslim Brotherhood as though it is the greatest threat,” says Zvi Bar’el, veteran middle eastern affairs analyst for Haaretz newspaper. “This is how we are educated by the government and media, to see Islam as a symbol of evil.”
So, there we have it. Shabi managed to spin the story in a way which assigns maximum malice to the Jewish state. The considerable Israeli concern that the cold but enduring peace treaty between Egypt and Israel could be suspended, and the grave fear of the rise of a reactionary anti-Semitic government which rejects the right of Israel to exist within any borders are all callously dismissed as merely a cover for the dark Israeli soul, one which is indoctrinated to be immutably racist towards Muslims.
That Israel may support democracy in the Middle East, but also fear that decidedly illiberal groups may use the language of freedom and human rights to gain power, only to ultimately undermine that nascent democracy, is an idea that Shabi seemingly can’t comprehend.
As previous pieces by the writer clearly demonstrate, Shabi’s hostility towards Israel – her insistence that Israel is an inherently racist and oppressive state – seems part of her journalistic DNA.
Leveraging this seemingly palpable enmity is her unique talent, her mission, and – as a Jew – her enduring gift to the Guardian.